My husband and I had only been married a few years when friends of ours lost a baby at the end of their pregnancy.
I was devastated for them. But I’ll be honest, I had no idea how to show love to them.
I prayed, a lot. I tried to listen. But I felt at a loss when it came to doing something tangible. What would be encouraging? What would feel like love? What would be helpful?
Years later, when we lost Annie just 12 days after she was born, I found out exactly what kinds of things to do when someone loses a baby.
I found out because our beautiful family and friends did them for us. I’m sure there are dozens of other options– but these 8 things were comforting and encouraging and hopeful as we navigated our loss.
Perhaps something here is what your friend who is experiencing loss needs too?
1. Food. (A meal, a pie, a snack, or a gift card to a local restaurant.)
This may be especially for those who have families– because the rest of the kids need to eat, but it can be hard to cook when you’re constantly mopping up tears. Or, sometimes you feel numb and unable to concentrate long enough to create a meal plan.
When we lost Annie, I knew my other daughter still needed food but my desire to make it was pretty much at zero. Every crock pot of soup and casserole was one less thing for me to worry over.
Food is an easy tangible thing that can show you care. If you’re worried about dietary restrictions– grab a gift card to a local restaurant or grocery store.
2. Flowers or plants
During those first quiet days at home, the bouquets and plants that arrived were life-giving in such tangible way. Friends and family from far away would have them delivered and just the little pieces of beauty and someone saying, “I see you” meant the world to us.
Also, bonus: if the grieving family has other children, consider sending a bouquet just for the living children. One friend sent me a bouquet along with a separate bouquet just for our older daughter. It was such a precious gift for Lizbeth to receive. I remember her cuddling the little bouquet in her arms and saying, “Oh, Mommy, someone thought of ME.”
3. Prayer blanket
Women at a local church made us a crocheted “prayer blanket”, telling us that while they worked at the project they prayed for our family. Knowing that others were interceding for us while we were in sorrow, was so encouraging.
In our case, we were still paying bills for Annie’s adoption that would not take place and dealing with the expense of having traveled daily to the NICU for two weeks. When people dropped off checks and twenty dollar bills and gas cards–it took a very difficult burden off our minds.
You see, death is SO MUCH bigger than money and YET, you still have to pay the bills. It can feel so lonely to be sitting over piles of bills while also grieving deeply.
Anyone who loses a child is going to be dealing with added expenses. Maybe the biggest bills are covered by insurance or other help–but there are always incidentals that add up so rapidly. Just a few dollars may not change their bills completely, but it WILL remind them that they aren’t alone.
5. Name card
After Annie died, a friend sent us a card with Annie’s full name (Brianna) on it. There was a verse and the meaning of the name on a pretty background. It wasn’t anything grand, but I was so blessed that someone remembered what we named her. Having her identity acknowledged and celebrated was so comforting to me.
After we lost Annie, a package came in the mail that contained a custom necklace. Annie’s name was on the back of one piece, and a small pearl was attached. I have no idea who sent it, but it was so touching to have her name remembered, and to have it combined with a pearl–which is the reminder that when we go through difficulty (like the sand that irritates the oyster), God is present (covering us and surrounding us, easing our sorrow over time).
A similar necklace to one we received can be found here.
7. A Note
A note in the mail. Dropped off at the house. In the mailbox at church. A text. An email.
Notes that share stories, notes that say just, “I’m so sorry”, notes that are well-written, notes that are choppy or scribbled on a scrap piece of paper.
Every single note said one thing to our family: Your sorrow is seen.
If you can do nothing else–you can do this. Don’t expect it to be acknowledged or responded to in any way, just send it with love.
8. Basket of Favorite Things
This last suggestion is for those who may be closer friends with the couple who lost their baby.
One of my best friends brought a basket filled with every favorite thing she could think of that my family would like. From coffee to journals to gift cards to twinkle lights, favorite snacks, drinks, and candies. It was so fun to see what she packed for us and to know that she was walking through our season of loss right beside us, and actively looking for ways to bring us joy during some of our hardest days.
A basket of things that bring some measure of pleasure to the couple and is personalized as much as possible is another way of tangibly saying, “Hey, I see you. I know you. I’m here and I hurt with you.”
I hope these ideas sparked a few of your own.
Tell me, what are gifts you’ve given or received over the loss of a child?
You can find the story of our baby Annie in my book, Counting Grains of Sand.